Though some members of the community speak in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the development carried out in Gorakhpur, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's bastion, they harbour a sense of insecurity.
Many Muslims in eastern UP may not want to vote for the BJP but they face a dilemma over choosing between the SP-BSP alliance and the Congress. Though some members of the community speak in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the development carried out in Gorakhpur, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s bastion, they harbour a sense of insecurity. Mufti Mohammed Waliullah, who leads prayers at Gorakhpur’s biggest mosque, said the Muslims are not “unanimous” over their choice of parties.
“Less literate Muslims will vote for the ‘mahagathbandhan’ (the opposition alliance) and the educated will vote as per their understanding,” he said.
Waliullah expressed anguish over the BJP questioning the nationalism of Muslims, reminding that the community is indigenous to India. “Only a few Muslim clerics visited India and people who lived in the country adopted Islam. India is our country,” he said.
Muslims account for about 10 per cent of population in Gorakhpur, which will go to the polls on May 19, along which other 12 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The Gorakhnath temple headed by Adityanath is in a locality dominated by Muslims. The temple employs people from the minority community.
In 2014, the BJP had got 233 out of 330 votes polled at a booth from where from Adityanath votes. Around half of the voters from the booth are estimated to be from the Muslim community. Seeking to allay the fears of the community, Adityanath told PTI that not a single incident of rioting has occurred in the state since his government took over two years ago. “Like here (Gorakhpur), Muslims feel safe in other parts of the state,” he said.
The chief minister said all religious festivals in the state are celebrated in harmony. It proves that every individual in the state want to live in peace, he added. “All those who unnecessarily disturb law and order have realised its consequences” Adityanath said. Besides Gorakhpur, other parliamentary constituencies going to the polls in the last phase include Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon (SC), Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj (SC).
A total of 167 candidates are in the fray from the 13 Lok Sabha seats. As far as the SP-BSP gathbandhan is concerned, the Samajwadi Party is contesting from eight seats, while the Bahujan Samaj Party is contesting from five seats. The BJP is contesting on 11 seats, while its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) is in the poll fray from two seats.
In Kushinagar, from where former Union minister R P N Singh is in the fray, insecurity is a key factor driving the decision of the community. Ahmad Kamaal Abdur Rehman Nadvi, who runs a madarssa in Kasia tehsil, said the crimes against the community have increased. The administration is hand-in-glove with criminals, he alleged.
“People have to live to see development. We feel very insecure under this government. Crimes against minority have increased and it is not recorded by the administration. On the other hand our love for nation is challenged. Our forefathers have fought for freedom of India. Soldiers are being insulted by this government and we are being questioned,” Nadvi said.
In the Maharajganj parliamentary constituency, Mohd Arshad — who is a graduate in political science and works as a taxi driver — said the BJP government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be given another chance for the good work it has done. “I have been driving since the last three-four years here and mostly ferry outstation passengers. It is easy to travel now as roads have been constructed everywhere and they are well lit. AIIMS is coming up in Gorakhpur. It will benefit everyone,” he said.
Arshad said the Muslims in the area feel insecure but there have been no riots under Adityanath. “Hindu Yuva Vahini members often created problem for the community but they have been silent after Adityanath became chief minister. We want peace, which is there,” he said. He also heaped praise on the BJP government, saying Muslims in his locality have been provided toilets, electricity connections, among other facilities.
Mohammad Bilal, a tailor and who also runs a madarssa in Siswa Bazaar town of Maharajganj, said Muslims will not vote for Modi but this is the first that there has been uninterrupted power supply during the month of Ramzan. Muslims account for about 15 per cent of the population in the Maharajganj constituency.
“Our village has not decided on voting yet. No one from our village is in favour of Modi. There was a huge crowd when Priyanka Gandhi came here. We will discuss it (voting),” said a Muslim labourer from Thoothibari block of Maharajganj.